TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation celebrated 72 graduates from the tribe’s adult education program during a special ceremony held September 19 at the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah Chota Center.

Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and Tribal Councilors Keith Austin and Daryl Legg helped honor the graduates. Participants who completed the program and passed the GED high school equivalency test were awarded diplomas at the reception.

“This is a celebration of what our Cherokee Nation Citizens have accomplished,” Deputy Chief Warner said. “Education is a lifelong journey, and no matter what road you’ve taken to be where you are today, you should never give up, no matter what your story is. I’m proud of each and every one of our citizens for completing this program, and I look forward to seeing what they will accomplish in the future.”

Mark Pritchett, of Tahlequah, is one of the adult education program graduates. In March, the company where he worked for 23 years went out of business, so he became involved in the tribe’s program while looking for future job prospects.

“Nowadays you need a GED for any job,” said Pritchett, 41. “I’m a truck driver by profession, and even some of those need a GED. I am just so grateful for the program and for the people who work there. They are very helpful and they put you at ease throughout the program.”

The Cherokee Nation adult education program is administered by the tribe’s Career Services department. The tribe provides GED instruction at multiple locations throughout its 14-county jurisdiction with options for morning, afternoon and evening classes. Testing is available at Pryor, Sallisaw, Stilwell and Tahlequah.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the achievements our Cherokee citizens have made,” said Cherokee Nation Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley. “Our adult education program is one of the most rewarding opportunites provided by the Cherokee Nation, and it is always the best feeling to see the next group of graduates donning their caps and and gowns for this celebration.”

The program serves citizens of federally recognized tribes within the 14-county jurisdiction who are 16 years of age or older.

For more information on the adult education program, call the Career Services Learning Center in Tahlequah at 918-458-0577.